On May 6, 2007, Sarah Taylor
called 911 to alert paramedics to the fact that her boyfriend's two
year old daughter was not responding and was unconscious after having
fallen down the stairs. Sarah said that she had been in the basement
doing laundry and Madison was in her bedroom watching a movie, then
Sarah heard several thumps and she found Madison at the bottom of the
stairs crying, with her head against the wall. Sarah said she carried
Madison up the stairs and while she was going up the stairs, Madison
went unconscious. Sarah didn't call 911 right away, she called her
friend who lived in another town. Miranda told Sarah to call 911, but
she didn't. Sarah called David Cundiff, Madison's father who said he
was on his way. A few minutes later, Sarah called David back and asked
if she should call 911 and David said yes, so Sarah FINALLY
Madison was taken to UK Hospital and she arrived at about 10:30 a.m.
and doctors intubated her in order to help her breath better. Dr. Dawn
Turner ordered a CT scan and said that Madison appeared to be suffering
from severe head trauma and her brain was swelling. Dr. Turner did all
she could to reduce the swelling and during this time, Madison never
opened her eyes and continued to be unresponsive. Madison stated having
seizures and it was discovered that she had retinal hemorrhaging in
both of her eyes and the CT scan showed bleeding in and around her
brain, in several places.
An autopsy showed that Madison had blunt force trauma and Dr. Cristin
Rolf said that Madison had died from what is known as Shaken Impact
Syndrome. Dr. Rolf had the help of Dr. Betty Spivak and they concluded
that Madison's dead was due to possible homicide.
On December 14, 2004, Sarah was indicted by a grand jury on a single
charge of murder. On December 17, Sarah was in court with her Lawyer to
enter a plea of not guilty. A trial would come make later and beginning
December 3, 2007 and lasting only five days.
In court, Dr. Dawn Turner said that the injuries she had seen in
Madison were comparable to those that would be sustained in a high
speed car accident adding that they were also consistent with Shaken
Baby Syndrome. Sarah's Lawyer tried to get a mistrial based on the fact
that he did not feel it was right that he was not able to produce
enough witnesses to counter what Dr. Turner was saying. Though the
court agreed with him, the Judge denied a mistrial. Dr. Betty Spivak
also testified saying that the injuries that Madison had were the type
that were inflicted, not on accident.
Dr. George Nicols, a Chief Medical Examiner, said in court that the
injuries Madison had been caused by multiple blows to her head and they
were consistent with falling down the stairs. While being cross
examined, Dr. Nicols said that it was possible that Madison was shaken
though he didn't believe she had been because there were no marks on
her body that would indicate she had been grabbed and shaken.
Madison's grandmother testified in court that the child always seemed
to be afraid of Sarah and would cry whenever she was around her. The
Defense Lawyer said that the two didn't have a relationship and that
Hope Cundiff just "had it out" for his client and she was not a
Sarah was found guilty of reckless homicide and sentenced to five years
in prison. Sarah filed an appeal saying that the evidence did not
support that she had killed Madison, that appeal was denied. A second
appeal for probation only was also denied. Then on January 30, 2008
Sarah filed another appeal stating that her rights had been violated,
that her lawyer had not been allowed to properly cross examine
witnesses as well as present evidence about Shaken Baby Syndrome. That
appeal was also denied, Sarah would remain in prison.
In August of 2010, it was reported that Sarah was going to be paroled
after serving less than three years of her five year sentence. Hope
Cundiff was not happy about it:
"She can go out here
and kill another child. She can go on with life. Madi is gone"
Hope wanted to make changes in the law saying that the system was very
"I was a deputy in
Hardin County Jail. Had all the respect for out laws and corrections and
wouldn't give you a dime for any of it because something is wrong
without system. Bad,
A conviction for reckless homicide meant that Sarah would only have to
serve 20% of her sentence and she would be out by September 1. I wonder
what the point is of making a sentenced that will NOT be served, this
makes no sense all to me, hope is right, the laws need to change.